Dining Above The Clouds: 6 Sky-High Restaurants Worth The Scary Elevator Ride

Whether you're celebrating a special occasion or seeking a different point of view, quite literally, sky-high restaurants are trending globally. From fancy dim sum to royal Korean plates to perfectly-charred steaks, here are six stellar restaurants that take fine dining to great new heights.

  1. Hong Kong: Above & Beyond

Upon ascending to the top floor to Above & Beyond at the stylish Hotel ICON, you'll know – from the provocative artwork to well-stocked wine cellar – this is no ordinary dim sum. Forgoing the clumsy carts, check-off menus and unbearable decibel levels, executive chef Joseph Tse, who previously cooked at the storied Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, prides in making this weekend mid-day meal a more civilized affair (the ceiling-to-floor windows and breathtaking views of Kowloon Bay don't hurt, either). Tse's fresh spins on dim sum and Cantonese cuisine include crispy taro cakes with whole abalone, feathery nests of crispy taro cupping a meaty morsel of fresh abalone. Another terrific bite is his crispy shrimps rice flour roll, where flash-fried whole shrimp are wrapped in chewy glutinous rice flour and splashed simply with soy sauce. 17 Science Museum Road, 852-3400-1318, hotel-icon.com

  • Tallinn, Estonia: Horisont
  • Until recently, Tallinn felt like a destination for European insiders — where Londoners and Parisians would steal away to for a quick, restorative getaway. Now globetrotters from all over are getting tipped off to the quiet, understated and uncrowded charm of Estonia's capital. And the most luxurious dining here is to be found at Swissôtel Tallinn's Horisont, which offers panoramic views of the city. Executive Chef Andrew Stansbie's strong suit is refined, European cuisine that's both pretty and palatable. While you can order à la carte, we recommend going all-in with Stansbie's tasting menu to experience flavor profiles that entice even the most experienced epicurean. There's gently warmed salmon, perfumed with vanilla and apple and drizzled with a savory miso caramel. Even the desserts surprise: a frothy lemon mousse (with meringue bits and red currants for crunch and chew) is presented in a bowl of dry ice for dramatic effect. Tornimae Street 3, 372-624-0000, swissotel.com/hotels/tallinn

  • London: Oblix
  • It's a feast for the senses, all of them, at Rainer Becker's (of London hot spots Zuma and Roka) restaurant and lounge occupying the entire 32nd floor of The Shard, Western Europe's tallest building. After breezing by the open kitchen – where you can watch bread baking and whole chickens spinning in the rotisserie – brace yourself for some dizzying views of the city and equally memorable cooking. A starter of grilled Japanese eggplant stuffed with a garlicky mixture of eggplant purée finished with crispy garlic chips – it's pleasantly sweet and rich without being heavy – showcases Becker's mastery of the grill. Whatever you do, don't forget house fries. Simply salted, they're fat, thick, gloriously golden and the ideal starchy companion for just about everything. 31 St. Thomas Street, 020 7268 6700, oblixrestaurant.com

  • New York: Gaonnuri
  • As the world's tallest Korean restaurant, Gaonnuri (which means "center of the world" in Korean), specializes in authentic Korean cuisine with a high emphasis on quality and artful presentation. And based on the prime real estate, minimal decor and chef Tae Goo Kang's background (from NOBU 57 and The Modern), you should expect to shell out a bit more for eating here. Most of Gaonnuri's menu reads like a canon of expertly-prepared classics: crispy seafood pajeon, tableside barbecue and dolsot (hot stone) bibimbap. But do yourself a favor and sample the elegant, cold plates historically reserved for royalty (they're nearly impossible to find in any standard Korean restaurant). These dishes demonstrate how the upper class once ate; essentially, using the finest ingredients available with minimal seasoning (you won't find a trace of fiery chili pepper paster gochojang). A highlight is chosuntang — a cool, milky, citrus-scented pine nut soup accompanied by fresh boiled shrimp, abalone and crisp cucumber slices. 1250 Broadway, 212-971-9045, gaonnurinyc.com

  • Dubai: Prime 68
  • Located on the 68th floor of the JW Marriott Marquis hotel, Prime 68 alluringly bucks the design norm followed by traditional steakhouses. Instead of dark wood, low light and leather banquettes, you'll be greeted by a sleek dining area decked out in a modern black and white palette, soft rose lighting and illuminated booths. And while it may be easy to get swept away by the glittering views – after all, this is the world's tallest hotel – it won't take long before you take notice of what's on your plate. The steakhouse steers traditional in style and turns out exceptionally rich and robust chops, including Australian Blackmore fullblood Wagyu Beef and Argentinian Aberdeen Angus, precisely-seared over the in-house charcoal grill. Round out your meal with indulgent sides of Truffled potato gratin, Lobster mac and cheese and Bourbon maple sweet potato topped with marshmallow. Sheikh Zayed Road, 971-04-414-3000, jwmarriottmarquisdubailife.com

  • Melbourne, Australia: Vue de Monde
  • It's not the newest kid on the block, but after 13 years of business (and four at its sky-high address), it's still one of the world's best destinations, nearly a virtual institution, to take in both exquisite food and views. On the 55th floor of Melbourne's iconic Rialto building, celebrated chef/owner Shannon Bennett leads diners on a wild, playful, gastronomic journey, and a spendy one at that (the 10-course tasting will set you back $250 AUD). The three-plus hour meal includes many scenes like this. The all-black dining areas are chic and very Australian in feel — from the hand-upholstered Kangaroo hide tables to Australian rock salt and pepper shakers to the light fixtures and artwork produced by local artists. While Bennett's style is rooted in classic French techniques, he loves astonishing diners with his magical plating and presentation. One of the most-buzzed about plates is an amuse bouche, which is prepared table side. House-cured wallaby (that's kangaroo to you) is carefully rolled around celeriac and sunflower seeds with chopsticks and served on a stone slab. 525 Collins Street, 61-39691-3888, vuedemonde.com.au

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